The Reunion (2011) – Review

2 Stars


The Reunion contains so many labored attempts at referencing the classic television show Bonanza that after a while you want to throw your hands up in submission. A more recent inspiration may have been the Mark Whalberg film Four Brothers, which itself was a loose remake of the John Wayne film The Sons of Kitty Elder. Do you see how confusing this can all get? The Reunion closely resembles those films story-wise in that the leads are three brothers who all share a common father and not much else. It is a lively little affair and since WWE Studios is behind the production there is some action, though it is curiously cartoonish in matters of violence and sex. The entire time the movie played I kept picturing pre-production meetings with Vince McMahon reading the script envisioning a semi-sequel to The Rundown with his Dwayne Johnson proto-type John Cena.

Michael Pavone is a better writer than director. His script is punchy and quick witted in the vein of Martin Breasts’ 1988 film Midnight Run. Characters are lively, loquacious and logical in their dialogue and actions. There is also a lot more humor than one would expect from a film headlined by a wrestler. Unfortunately Pavone’s shortcomings as a director become glaringly obvious with his botched attempts at out of left field punchlines awkwardly inserted in the middle of intense scenes. A better filmmaker would have found a way for those potentially humorous bits to really score. Here it comes off as amateurish and desperate. Luckily Pavone had the foresight to cast three actors with loads of charisma and truly great chemistry. WWE star John Cena, former child actor Ethan Embrey and newcomer Brad Holbrook make up the lead trio and each man is perfectly cast in the appropriate role.

In the end it’s a near miss for me. I really admired some aspects of the film including the relaxed performances and quirky story in the midst of a traditional western genre story structure. However the flaws are so great that I cannot fully recommend the picture. I think that fans of Cena’s wrestling career and previous films will be disappointed in the lack of full blown action sequences and others aren’t likely to take a chance on a movie starring a guy best known for bodyslams. Admittedly I’m a fan of John Cena, at one point in time I thought he had a chance at really exploding onto the big screen like Johnson or Vin Diesel. Over time it has become increasingly evident that staying under the WWE Studios banner has done him no favors.

Director: Michael Pavone
Stars:John Cena, Ethan Embry, Boyd Holbrook

One thought on “The Reunion (2011) – Review

  1. I think i liked this film more than most. I dont know why. I normally cant sit through low budget movies start to finish but i did on this one.

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